Rumor: Facebook prepping powerful, great-looking photo sharing app

Jun 15, 2011
Tech

Despite all the phenomenal cosmic powers and giant Scrooge McDuck piles of money Facebook has at its disposal, photo-sharing on its various mobile apps is kind of dismal. Adding photos to albums is a bit of a multi-step pain, and if you screw it up, Facebook just drops them any old place. Tagging those photos […]

Despite all the phenomenal cosmic powers and giant Scrooge McDuck piles of money Facebook has at its disposal, photo-sharing on its various mobile apps is kind of dismal. Adding photos to albums is a bit of a multi-step pain, and if you screw it up, Facebook just drops them any old place. Tagging those photos is another step in the process and a difficult feature to track down – it’s hidden under the “Add Comment” menu, by the way, which is an awkward and unintuitive place for that feature to be.

But according to a story at TechCrunch, which has apparently acquired some leaked documents and a bunch of images from Facebook, the supermassive social networking company is working to upgrade photo sharing on Apple’s iOS platform with a new app designed specifically for that purpose. That seems like a great idea a long time coming, seeing as photo sharing on Facebook’s website is probably its most popular feature, and the site sees some 6 billion uploads every month.

The new app is apparently to be called something like “Hovertown” or “WithPeople” – both internal names used for the project – and does away with Facebook’s clumsy, text-heavy interface for something much more visual. It looks something like another photo social network, Instagram, displaying just the photos from your news feed (it appears) and their locations or relevant information, like captions and tags. But the point is, instead of getting tightly cropped, small-scale thumbnails mixed in with the text of a Facebook news feed, HoverWithPeopleTown (or whatever it’s called) emphasizes big, cross-screen thumbnails with interesting arrangements.

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It appears that HoverPeople will be a standalone app, although TechCrunch reports there are signs the photo platform could be integrated into the primary Facebook app before too long. That’s a scenario that makes a lot of sense anyway, seeing as it matches Facebook’s model of trying to make as many features as possible available on its platform, so users never even have to look at the rest of the Internet if they don’t want to.

TechCrunch describes the app as being a mix between social networking apps Instagram, Path and the new Path side-project, With. That’s a little, uh, vague, but if I had to guess, I’d expect at the very least that Facebook’s app is borrowing some of the filtering and editing options from Instagram, which are definitely that app’s coolest features. Path excels at being a small-scale social platform with a lot of sharing controls, which seem like they’d integrate well with a Facebook app; I haven’t had a chance to mess around with With just yet.

Details are sketchy beyond an image and TechCrunch’s quick description of the app, and we don’t know when to expect it or what it might cost (though it being free is incredibly likely, but you never know). We’ll be keeping an eye on TechCrunch’s coverage and on any announcements discussing the spillage of beans from Facebook’s camps in the coming few days.

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Phil Hornshaw

Phil Hornshaw is a freelance writer, editor and author living in Los Angeles, dividing his time between playing video games, playing video games on his cell phone, and writing about playing video games. He’s also the co-author of So You Created a Wormhole: The Time Traveler’s Guide to Time Travel, which attempts to mix time travel pop culture with some semblance of science, as well as tips on the appropriate means of riding dinosaurs. Check out his profile.

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